Amid Raqqa, Mosul fights, US prepares for Daesh endgame effort

An Iraqi boy carries heavy belongings through rubble as he flees fighting between Iraqi special forces and Daesh militants, in western Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Updated 19 May 2017
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Amid Raqqa, Mosul fights, US prepares for Daesh endgame effort

WASHINGTON: The United States is looking ahead toward a decisive battleground in its bid to destroy the Daesh group.
It is preparing for this next step even as US-backed local forces attempt to finish the fight for the extremists’ two main strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon is eyeing a roughly 100-mile stretch of IS-controlled territory straddling the Iraq-Syria border that could represent the start of an endgame for defeating an extremist group that had gobbled up large swaths of territory.
Much fighting remains in Mosul in northern Iraq and in the extremists’ self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria. The follow-on battle lines are being drawn along a corridor that follows the Euphrates River valley from Syria’s eastern oil region to the Iraqi city of Al-Qaim.


EU efforts to save nuke deal ‘not sufficient,’ says Iran’s Zarif

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wants the European Union to do more to save the nuclear deal after the exit of the US. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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EU efforts to save nuke deal ‘not sufficient,’ says Iran’s Zarif

  • Several foreign firms have already halted their Iranian operations while they wait to see how talks within the EU will play out.
  • Zarif spoke after meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who has been on a two-day visit to Tehran.

TEHRAN: Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sunday that European efforts to save the nuclear deal after the exit of the US were not sufficient.

“The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated,” Zarif told reporters.

He spoke after meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who has been on a two-day visit to Tehran — the first by a Western official since Washington announced its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this month.

“With the exit of the United States from the nuclear deal, the expectations of the Iranian public toward the European Union have increased... and the EU’s political support for the nuclear agreement is not sufficient,” Zarif added in comments carried by state broadcaster IRIB.

Several foreign firms have already halted their Iranian operations while they wait to see how talks within the EU will play out.

French oil major Total said last week it would abandon its $4.8-billion investment project in Iran unless it was granted a waiver from Washington.

Another French energy giant, Engie, said Saturday it would cease engineering work in Iran before November, when US sanctions are due to be reimposed.

“The European Union must take concrete supplementary steps to increase its investments in Iran. The commitments of the EU to apply the nuclear deal are not compatible with the announcement of probable withdrawal by major European companies,” Zarif said.

Canete said he recognized that time was short and that clear measures were needed from Europe to protect investments and oil purchases.

Iran has threatened to resume industrial uranium enrichment “without limit” if its interests are not protected.